Depression has come out to be a major issue in both youths and senior citizens of the population in recent years. Whilst many take medicine or seek consultation to cope with their issues. Many aren’t able to see any improvement no matter how many treatments they undergo. So researchers have been looking at more ways to successfully help treat depression.
Depression isn’t really curable, as it is mostly psychological but it is treatable. Sadly for some traditional treatments just aren’t effective. But maybe not anymore as this group of researchers has found a quite unusual solution. Laughing gas or more specifically nitrous oxide. A Phase 2 clinical trial showed that a mere 60-minute treatment with the gas could show rapid improvements in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
The treatment’s benefits even last as long as two weeks. The trial consisted of 24 subjects and each of them underwent three treatment sessions. Each session was spaced a month apart and was one hour long. A placebo session also took place where the subjects would only breathe oxygen. The study was published in the journal Science Translation Medicine.
Charles Conway, co-senior investigator of the trial said that “Some patients experience side effects – it’s a small subset, but it’s very real – and the main one is that some people get nauseated. But in our study, only when people got the 50 percent dose did they experience nausea. When they received 25 percent nitrous oxide, no one developed nausea. And that lower dose was just about as effective as the higher dose at relieving depression”.
The senior investigator, Peter Nagele, also shared some details saying that the duration of the treatment effect would last between two to four weeks. He pointed out that previous research had only observed the participants for 24 hours. He said that “The reduction in side effects was unexpected and quite drastic. but even more excitingly, the effects after a single administration lasted for a whole two weeks. This has never been shown before. It’s a very cool finding”.
Conway talked about some of the advantages of their treatment, saying that “One potential advantage to nitrous oxide, compared with ketamine, is that because it’s a volatile gas, its anesthetic effects subside very quickly. It’s similar to what happens in a dentist’s office when people drive themselves home after getting a tooth pulled. After treatment with ketamine, patients need to be observed for two hours following treatment to make sure they are OK, and then they have to get someone else to drive them”.
The study is really interesting but they’ll have to go through more trials to make sure that it is really safe for commercial treatment. At least there is hope for people who can’t treat their depressions through regular means.